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tv   John Mc Laughlins One on One  PBS  March 24, 2013 9:00am-9:30am PDT

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>> jesus' favorite disciple. >> she has been mythologized in christian lore as the prostitute. not one iota of evidence to support that depict opportunity. mary magdalene was not christ's lover as the "da vinci code"
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says she was. her role as one of jesus' key disciples was virtually expunged from early christian history. without her, the courts of modern christianity, namely belief in the resurrection would be vastly different. that's the proposition of new mary magdalene biography and the author is with us. bruce chilton.
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>> dr. bruce, welcome. congratulations on your book mary magdalene, a biography. a great read. >> i appreciate that. >> interesting throughout. are there any misconceptions about mary magdalene that you care to debunk? >> i think perhaps the most prominent one is the claim that mary magdalene had earned her living as a prostitute before she encountered christ of. of all the women in history, mary magdalene must be the most
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unlucky. she was only assigned the job of being a prostitute more than 500 years after she had died. it is the result of a sermon that was preached by pope gregory the great in the year 594. he wanted to convince the people he was preaching to, his monks that they had to learn to develop their desires. so they became holy passions. so he preached a very elegant sermon in which he combined different images. mary magdalene, a woman described in luke as being sinful and finally the song of songs. out of that almagam, he produced the image of mary magdalene as a prostitute, then reformed. it is a beautiful image in its own way, but pope gregory intended that to be taken as a comparison, not as history.
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>> it produce even today thanks to dan brown and the da vinci code because he said jesus and mary were lovers. >> that's right. that idea which developed later than the legend about her prostitution is one that captured the public's imagination, and it resulted in the recent claim that they also had a child. >> we are talking about mary magdalene. we are not talking about mary the mother of jesus. did those two marys have any contact. >> it seems there was some contact between them because mary magdalene was jesus' closest disciple and although jesus' relationship with his family was often fraught, nonetheless, there is good evidence that towards the end of his life, there was a reconciliation with his family. >> it is clear she has been
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depicted throughout a good deal of history, at late as 1876 in this portrait we see on the screen, mary magdalene. the artist is julius. that erotic allure has been caught by brown in his book. >> it certainly has been. >> would you deny if jesus were to have a lover, that lover would have been mary magdalene. >> she does remain the most likely candidate. the difficulty is that we do not have firm evidence one way or another, and therefore i don't believe it is possible to draw an inference that is reasonable. >> we don't have evidence to the contrary. >> that is the case. >> in fact there is some things in his life that lead people to think the fact they were alone when he was casting out the devil which we will get in to in a moment. how old were they when they met? >> i think it is true because they are sometimes alone,
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because they join in ritual together, particularly rituals of anointing, some people have surmised therefore they must have had a sexual relationship in addition. the difficulty with such arguments is they may tell us more about the way we feel about sexuality than the way in which -- mary magdalene and jesus behaved. >> she was 20 years old by your estimate and that would make christ about 30 years old. >> i think christ was a little bit younger han she. she actually made her way from her hometown as a woman who already been troubled as luke says by seven demons. that would made her slightly older than jesus, but both in their 20's when they pier met. >> you see jesus' ministry lasting longer than has come down through convention. isn't it commonly thought his
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active ministry lasted about three years. >> the estimate that jesus' ministry lasted only three years is based upon the fact in the gospels, all the actions is compressed. the reason for that compression is that the gospels were written for the purpose of preparing people for baptism, teaching them the nature of the christian faith. ordinaryily, that took approximately one year. >> you think she could have been an outcast? >> it is most likely she was because of the seven demons. >> was it because of her place of birth which was that fishing town. >> the fishing town had a great deal to do with her background, both because it shows her involvement in the local economy of the area, but even more strikingly, because during her lifetime and during jesus' lifetime, mag dala became a service community for the larger city called tiber just which has
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been bill by the governor and which was known for its uncleanness. >> after jesus died he was buried in the fume and mary magdalene was the first within a group of women. >> exactly. >> to go to visit the tomb and. >> to anoint his body. >> was that the first anointing? >> had is not the first anointing that she's involved with, but it is the first after his death. >> she anointed christ's body twice, while he was alive and while he was dead. >> exactly. >> other women were with mary when she visited the tomb according to the gospels? >> their names vary from gospel to gospel. had is agreement there were other women involved. >> other women in jesus' life. >> quie clearly. his group of disciples probably totalled about 30 and they included both men and women. >> how many women? >> we can't say because the
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breakdown is not given to us. however, i would estimate we are dealing with about a dozen women who were regularly the followers of jesus. >> jesus was called a nazarene and mary magdalene is known as what. >> the mag dalien. >> anything there in front of us that means anything beyond a similarity of rhyme. >> in both aramaic and greek those two names echo one another linking jesus and mary magdalene. in addition to that there is a nice play on their backgrounds. the term magdalene as i was just saying associates mary with the impurity that mag dala had become notorious for because of its proximity to tiberias. jesus' name the nazarene picks up on that old testament vow
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called the nazrite vow which had at its aim making a person a special vehicle of purity. >> also it has a recall ring to it. >> it does because he was brought up in the village called nazareth, a peasant town. >> did she seek him out? >> she in my opinion must have sought him out owing to his reputation as an exer cyst. >> he was about 12 years old and she was 20 years of age. >> yes. >> are you joined with other biblical scholars in the view that jesus ministry began much earlier than 30 years of age. >>. as early as 18 years of age. >> i'm joined with a number of scholars which i'm happy to say a growing number of scholars. i wouldn't claim at the moment this is a majority opinion. it has been acknowledged for a number of years that the gospels do compress the action
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associated with christ, so much so that sometimes it becomes implausible. therefore, i have been engaged in understanding what more plausibly the development of jesus' life would have been, starting with a baptist. on the basis of the work of the jewish historian josephus, i believe that can be placed in the year 21. that is the reason for which i allow a longer period for jesus' development as a teacher and for his interaction with other followers. >> do you take the view that jesus was 100% human? >> i think he was certainly 100% human. >> you take the view he was 100% divine. >> equally so. >> he has a dual nature. >> that's right. >> he stands alone in that regard. >> this is classic crystal
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logical thinking according to which anything we say about jesus has to make sense about man. >> you have 19-year-old who is had 100% human and vig gore russ. comes from a rural environment, carpenter. therefore, he has all of the neurological and other apparatus of a perfectly healthy male in the presence of extremely sensous woman who is seeking his support. admires him greatly because of his reputation. you don't think there are grounds for thinking this pass beyond a platonic relationship. >> there are certainly grounds for thinking that. let me offer you two cautions. one is if they are going to be a sustained relationship, the teaching of the jewish religion has an institution for na, and that is marriage. because jesus as a result of the pressures on him was constantly traveling, he could not uphold
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the jewish law at that time which held you had to provide a woman with a household near her original family. you couldn't, for example, take a woman from galilee to judea or judea to galilee. from the town to the country side or vice versa. that is one reason for caution. >> give me the second one. 13 years old was the average age according to the jewish religion a woman becomes betrothed and that young lady was watched carefully by her parents and others to see to it that she arrived at the marriage state in a state of virgin, correct? that line was crossed. isn't that all very small academic minor green eye shade material when you are faced with the reality of this situation? >> it may be. the other factor i had in mind
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is mary mag ga -- magdalene's previous possession. we don't know the nature of that earlier difficulty. >> we are talking about the demons. >> exactly. >> the gospels say that mary mag -- magdalene was possessed by seven demons. what were these demons? were they physical, neurological, psychiatric, satanic? we will put that question to our guest. first here is his distiuished prile. >> born new york. age 56. two sons. religion, an le can. ba drama. the gen theological sem ear, new york city master of divine -- divinity with distinction. ordination england. cambridge university the u.k., ph.d. divinity. bar college new york, professord
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currently. institute of director, ten years and currently. church of st. john the evangelist. 18 years and currently. author over 30 wook including the acclaimed rabbi jesus and rabbi paul and the brand new mary magdalene, a biography. hobby. squash, astronee, theater. the reverend dr. bruce david chillson. >> reverend dr. chilton, this is your portrait here that you have chosen for the cover of your book. you have the woman as described in had conversation between us. there is also this picture of st. mary magdalene by the artist 1533 in venice. that i believe is described in your book as the portrait in
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which mary wipes the feet of jesus -- wipes the body of jesus or was it the feet at the tomb? was it when he was living or dead? >> when he was alive, wiped the feet of jesus. >> she anointed him. tell us about that? >> there are two scene in the gospels in which this physical contact with jesus is described. one is with a sinful woman, not mary, who wipes jesus' feet with her hair. the other is mary magdalene in my reading in which she totally covers jesus with ointment starting with his head. the other disciples get upset with what she has done, and jesus tells them that she has done a beautiful thing for me. she acted with what she had. she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. what that is telling us is that as a result of this anointing, jesus came to the resolution at
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this pivotal moment in his life that the way in which god was going to be revealed in the world was going to have to include his own death. what mary magdalene showed him by his anointing is that the way of spirit is sometimes not only the way of healing but also suffering. >> what were the demons? >> demons in the ancient world were understood to disturb the personality at a deep level. when people are described as being possessed by unclean spirits, it is frequently said that they shout out loud. that they are obsessed. that they injure themselves or other people. of course this disorder of the personality can also result in a physical illness as well. >> you see these demons or these evil spirits or whatever it was
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that was disturbing mary magdalene as proceeding from the interior or exterior? was it outside force? was it satan doing this? or something we would describe today perhaps -- we would use logical terms? this phenomenon you talked about happens of course with people today. are you saying that the demons of yesteryear are the same as the demons of today. they are spiritual in mate and can be exstore -- exor siesed as jesus did. >> some of the complaints we associate with compulsive disorders, obsessions or addictions are exactly what we are seeing as being caused by demons in the ancient world. i also believe there is an important element of wisdom in the ancient teaching, namely, that not all of our mall
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adjustments are caused by physical problems. sometimes those are interior matters of the state of the soul. as a matter of fact, learning how to deal with the evil that afflicts our own hearts is one of the functions of growing up in to becoming a full human being. exorism unfortunately today has a reputation of being some kind of bizarre event. in the ancient world, it was the way in which you address evil whe it began, namely, in the human heart. >> after jesus ebbor siesed here, she became kind of the chief exorcist amongst the disciples. >> she is the one person named as the recipient of jesus' exorism. it is said she had seven unclean spirits. i think the inference is wise she became an expert in that field among the disciples. >> do you think it was niewmer
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logical or you think it was something of spiritual nature that originated inside that still to some extent produced today? you calculated it took a year to expel the demons. >> that's right. this was a continuing therapy that finally resulted in mary's release from these -- >> what would you see sigmund freud would say about in? >> there is a way of seeing exorism in a psychological sense. there is certainly a wisdom in doing that. namely, we are dealing with the human soul. >> is there also wisdom in dealing with the way jesus did in a parallel form? you can be exor sietioned today. exorism does exist. less than going to that extreme or extent, there are spiritual disorders that can be corrected through prayer, fasting and other forms of self-discipline? >> i would say that is the case. this is the way in which we come
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to deal with who we are at the core of our being. >> this is what you say about mary magdalene and the resurrection. the surest truth about mary magdalene remains her vision at the mouth of jesus' tomb recounted in all the gospels starting with mark. her vision marks separation of jesus from his flesh and his entry in to a resurrected existence like angels. as jesus himself described it. you point out where. not the reanimated corns on which literalists have insisted. you go on to say elsewhere, mary magdalene was a disciple who best appreciated jesus' visionary teaching of the resurrection. without her advice thennity would have been totally different. now, you maintain that the
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literal or physical view of the resurrection, the body rising. the physical body is a later invention, but mary who went out to herald his regs recollection and announce it -- she went to the other apostles and told them about it, she was not talking about the elevation of his physical body. she was talking about something i think described as a spiritual principle or a deposit of energy. is that correct? >> that's right. it is quite clearly depicted within the gospel that mary had a vision at the tomb. this vision involved an angel. jesus himself had taught that resurrection involved people becoming like angels. he said this very openly in the gospel according to mark. mary and jesus were entirely on
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the same wavelength where it concerned resurrection. at a later period, the view of resurrection became more and more physical, but it is interesting that the earlest writer to speak of the resurrection who is st. paul also agrees with mary magdalene and jesus. he says that the resurrection has to be understood as spiritual and not as physical. >> you know what your word are awakening here. they awaken the thought of where is the body? where did jesus' corpse go? it is not reanimated corpse we know about or we should be knowing about in the resurrection. to say nothing about how this shatters the belief of so many christians everywhere, right?
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>> that's exactly the case. what i would like to assure those who believe in a physical resurrection is that within the gospels, there are some depictions, but all of them later than mary magdalene's experience. i'm talking about encounters with risen jesus. some of them when they done involve mary magdalene, are characterized by a physical existence. for example, he eats with his disciples aer his death. >> how do you know that is just a matter of perception and ab ber rigs. it is physically not there? >> it is quite clear that the resurrection of jesus was experienced in differing ways. you can see those differences simply by reading all the gospels. not of them agree on set kind of
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resurrection. >> is it your view that jesus christ did resurrect his body, his physical body, or is it your view that that remains and does remain somewhere on the planet? >> i think it is likely that that does remain on the planet, but na his resurrection should be understood as spiritual. >> how far you move this. this is obviously i think -- this is part of a theology that has been in existence for i guess reputable, a reasonably reputable but not reputable to the current pope for a couple of decades at most? how far do you stretch that? for example, jesus is the son of god. you take that in a literal sense? you believe he is the son of god? or is he the sign of god? is he the sacrament of god? is he the signal of god? is he the principal of god?
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>> i think myself those are all very good characterizations. i don't see one excluding the other. when we refer to jesus being son of god, what we mean is within the christian faith, that when we look to jesus, we see god. god becomes manifest to us. also when we look to god, we discover the personality of jesus. >> now we are in the world of metaphor. >> that is the case. >> and symbol. when you say that jesus is god, you don't mean he's like the governing entity over this universe, correct? >> no. i mean -- >> he is one and the same with that entity. >> that's right. that he represents the human aspect of god. that he is god become human. i think myself that is a good way to understand what is going on within the new testament. however, what i believe is also important is that one can study jesus and understand his
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disciples, no matter what one's particular faith about those people. they remain people. >> can you summarize the true contribution of mary magdalene to catholicism and christianity. >> mary magdalene contributed basic sacraments to christianity which have largely been forgotten. there is dissolving evil within the human heart, second was anointing for healing. the third is vision. that is an awareness of god's eternal presence. >> catholic church canonized her. >> she is a saint of all churches. >> relationship with jesus. discipleship lasted for 11 ye